Budget Pulls Ad After Complaints

By ROBERT WELLER

DENVER (AP) – Budget Rent A Car is canceling an advertisement that shows a skier tangled in a tree after a flurry of criticism from the ski industry.

The ad suggested a skier could avoid crashing into a tree by renting enough cars through Budget to qualify for free ski goggles.

“Rent 3 times, meet menacing tree. Rent 4 times, see menacing tree coming,” said the ad, which promised frequent customers a pair of goggles made by Bolle. The ad ran in several magazines, including Time, Ski, Skiing and Outside.

Vail Resorts CEO Adam Aron led the assault on the ad, writing a letter to Sandy Miller, CEO of Budget Group Inc., the parent company of the car rental agency. Aron said he was “absolutely horrified and astounded by your insensitive, tasteless and highly offensive advertisement.”

The National Ski Areas Association also complained. “We feel the ad is in poor taste, and it greatly exaggerates the danger of our sport,” said Stacy Gardiner, the association’s spokeswoman.

Budget was contrite in a statement announcing the cancellation of the ad.

“The skier’s image in our recent advertisement was designed to convey a humorous message. While we are always looking to grab customers’ attention through our advertising, it is not our intent to offend anyone,” the statement said.

The ski and snowboarding industries in the United States launched a big push a year ago to control reckless skiing and boarding. Last season, skier fatalities dropped to 30 from 39 during the 1998-99 season, said Gardiner.

The average number of deaths for the past 16 seasons has been 34.